Monday, February 07, 2011

The Green Stamp Fiasco

I have alluded to this event before in my writings. But today I am  cleaning up some drafts I stored and never posted.

Growing up my siblings and I were taught to give, especially gifts among the family members. We had meager allowances, so these gifts were often just for our parents on special occasions-Christmas, birthdays, Mother's Day and Father's Day.

Often these gifts were home-made drawings, cards, etc. Mother strongly believed it was the thought and best effort most important; the gifts were truly useless expressions love by our developing minds and attitudes. She often said this, just in case she perceived one of us might ridicule the other sibling's efforts. Also whatever we gave, be it a gift, help, etc. it should be our best.

I must admit I was a slow learner, but it was a core belief she tried to teach us. As I think back over the years, my sister absorbed the lesson to the greatest extent the earliest. Since I don't live near her today, I cannot attest if this value continued into adulthood, although with 4 children, and her job in social services, probably enhanced the lessons in totality, not just gifts.

My brother helped others in different ways, not necessarily gifting. He also was the first to receive paychecks, as he was allowed to work at the lumber and hardware chain where Dad was manager. My sister and I still got a small allowance but were not allowed to work outside the home, when many of our friends were car-hopping at the local drive-ins, or served as low wage waitresses, sales persons, etc.

I probably learned the lessons in totality as life slowly crawled along. Being a first child I was absorbed in my importance as oldest and smartest (HA!) and demanding or impressing those around me. So Mother's lesson converted in my mind I had to 'out-do, out-perform, out-buy, out-learn, out-shine and out-give' for many years, but especially when I entered the work force. It was often a duty, not from the heart.
 Today I know that was not her lesson, but each person's mind does not convert the messenger's message the same as the next.

While a freshman in the university (1956), I had a summer job in a local independent drug store. The hours counted toward my pharmacy practical experience licensure requirement. This was an older version of drugstore with soda fountain, a lunch plate, jewelry, perfume & cosmetic counter, and miscellaneous gifts.

It pleased me to be able to obtain small items my parents used at a discount, one small benefit of my small salary, like cosmetics, toiletries, colognes, etc. I felt I was repaying them in a very small way for all they did for me.

Christmas was big time business at independent drug stores; we even gift wrapped. We were the first small store to have a bow-maker, a big time labor saver in those days, before bows were bought in big packages.

Not having graduated, I lived at home when not at the university.

Even though times were not as rough as in the '40s, having one child in a state university and two more siblings still in public school, but possibly headed to some sort of higher learning, frugality still existed in the family budget.

The meals of pinto (usually) beans and cornbread were frequent. A chicken fried  round steak with milk gravy made in same skillet with crumbs was divided 5 ways. Meatloaf was frequent. I never felt deprived.  I love all three menus to this day.

Internet Photo

When the Christmas items began to arrive at the pharmacy, I began to peruse the "latest" items coming down the pike. A West Bend bean pot (Forerunner to the CrockPot) caught my eye. It was a tad pricey for my salary; after all I had Christmas gifts to buy for 5 family members plus Mother's Christmas Eve birthday.

However, in my mind, as was often the case with all of us, her gifts usually were for both birthday and Christmas. So I reasoned I could gift the bean pot as for dual occasions.

There are no words to describe my pride in what was perceived as a time saver for a meal she frequently cooked. I could hardly wait for Christmas morn. I also perceived it as "grown-up" gift. I was bursting with pride in my gift selection.

As I recently described Christmas was the biggest event of the year as Dad had big bonuses, and certain premium gifts from companies with which he did business. Then there was the family Christmas gift and the S & H Green Stamps gift which Mother selected.
Internet Photo

I do not remember when Mother opened the gift, her birthday, or Christmas Day. She immediately laughed and said now she had two of them, as I would soon see. She then opened the Green Stamp gift which was identical in every respect.

She saw how disappointed I was, and said "great minds run in the same channel" but it was not even a little comforting to me. Nor would she let me take it back for a different gift. She did not believe in returning or re-gifting. However, a few years later when I set up my first apartment one of the two ended up with me.

Years later I remembered the wise man Solomon in Proverbs 16:18, said "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." I probably was guilty of a little of both way back when I was pretty full of myself.

Generosity and charitable acts are more than gifts. My husband had these traits when he had nothing.  I've learned from him; yet I prefer to work through organizational efforts and in different areas than he does. As I have matured spiritually and his generous spirit, we are more fortuitively blessed to be able to recognize and spontaneously help when need arise, than we once were.


The ductwork is completed; hate to see the electric bill from all the space heaters we used for a week.
The housekeeper is well and worked yesterday.

The computer shuffle is continuing.

The medical dilemma still exists; I am dealing better with it.

I now have bronchitis, coughing my head off.

Today I connected the humidifier and water trap wrong on the oxygenator--have water everywhere.  Then I was told to only use distilled water (we had bottled drinking water). NOWHERE in the literature does it say DISTILLED water, which I pointed out to the representative I saw earlier in the day. I do have Distilled water in the house.

The water backed out my nasal cannula onto the floor and sounded like a waterfall beside my chair, except no goldfish, frogs  and lily pads. I am thankful the cannula was NOT in my nose!

More frozen precipitation is due late tonight, so I that furry rodent, the overstuffed ground hog, is way off in his prediction, but we'll see.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this post very much. I remember the days when we could go to the drug store, purchase gifts and have them gift wrapped.

Sorry you have bronchitis, hope you are feeling better very soon. Sorry about the water too, hope it was not too much trouble getting it all cleaned up.

I am not believing that fuzzy fat groundhog and his prediction at all. Stay warm, safe and get well.


rosaria said...

First, it's good to see you getting around.
Second, that gift was not a fiasco at all; it connected you to the family values you wanted to express and ended up in your hand after all, as your mother knew you'd appreciate.

This is such a beautiful portrait of life back then. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Pat - Arkansas said...

Once upon a time, and until quite recently, I had a West Bend Bean Pot. I used the hot plate in many other ways and, using aluminum foil for a cover, used the bean pot in the oven as a casserole dish of sorts.

Your parents did a wonderful job in teaching you some core values. It's a blessing that DH has continued to reinforce and to encourage those good things in you.

I've been thinking about you and hoping that you kept warm while all the duct work was going on. I hope the temporary inconvenience is offset by some long term benefits, chief among which is your health.

I'm sorry you have bronchitis. Get well soon.


Lisa said...

This was a great post! I really enjoyed reading it! Your mother was so right! SMART WOMAN...Wise before my aunt would say.

This may sound funny but you know I think this recession has been good for my kids. It's been terrible for me but I see the things your mother was trying to teach in my kids and it's a beautiful thing.

Hope you feel better!


Small City Scenes said...

Pride indeed! Weren't we all full of it back in thoses days. Great story. My MIL saved green stamps and gave me enough to buy my first cookbook (1957) Betty Crocker--which I still have to this day. All falling apart and dog-eard. The very best.

Yes there are a lot of wind turbines out here. Well not so much up where I live but severy wind farms in Eastern Washington and Southwestern Wa.
My daughter works for PSE (Puget Sound Energy) which owns several large farms. Funny they are called wind farms. MB

Dimple said...

You have been keeping busy! Dealing with life can be quite challenging; I hope by now the computer and duct work issues are resolved and the clean-up is done!
We live in a mobile, also, and last summer our electric coop had a special service which we took advantage of: they paid to have our ducting tested for holes and repaired. The service technicians found one end of the ductwork was open, and our furnace had been blowing hot air into the crawl space. It had been that way since we bought it new in 1983! Our power bills are lower now.
You are quite an ambitious reader: I find that history is difficult to read, unless the writer takes pains to make it lively. I like to learn about what happened, but I need the human context to keep me awake!

I quite agree with you and your mother that what we do and how we live Mon-Sat is more telling than what we do on Sunday morning. The Church is not a club with regular meetings, but an assembly of those who have believed that Jesus is who He said He was, and have committed themselves to His lordship in their lives.

Thanks for the visit!

Lorna said...

this post took me back. We were a large family too, though not so much for those days--six of us and I was the oldest. We always treasured the gifts we made for one another---even the time I made dandelion wine for my mom when I was six and she was sick.

The values stick and all of us have gifts from each other strewn around, precious and not subject to the downsizing rule.

CHERI said...

There's a quote somewhere in the back of my head about being young and foolish! Some of us (like me) often have to learn life's lessons the hard way, but the important thing here is that you did learn and sounds like you give from the heart.

Arkansas Patti said...

Oops, how did I miss this one. Thanks for letting me know.
I too remember when I started working and could buy "special" presents for my parents. It sure felt good.
Kind of wish green stamps were back. We felt like we were getting something for nothing though that wasn't the case.
Hope you have meds for the bronchitis. That can really linger.
Stay warm, we have a 70 degree forcast in the future.

Lisa said...

Thinking about you and I do hope your feeling better!


Liz said...

Your mum sounds a very wise and lovely woman. She's taught you well.